Summary: A message regarding the character of Joseph and Mary.

Unlikely Characters of Christmas

Matthew 1:18-25

December 7, 2003


We continue our look at the gospel of Matthew this week, as we count down the days to Christmas.

Today we¡¦re going to look at what we can learn about the lives of Mary and Joseph, and my hope is that you¡¦ll walk out of here with more than just a bit of head knowledge about these two vitally important people in the Christmas story.

These are two incredible people that often don¡¦t get much publicity, except at this time of year. But I hope that after today you¡¦ll consider them more often, and that you will come to esteem them as we do the rest of the heroes of the faith.

Because what makes Joseph and Mary so special is something we can all take to heart and learn from.

So please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 1:18-25. If you¡¦re using the Bibles in the seats, this is on p. 681.

18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" --which means, "God with us."

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Now next week we are going to come back to this passage and look at this whole issue of Immanuel ¡V God with us, and you¡¦ll want to be here for that.

Today I¡¦m focusing on Mary and Joseph, not because Jesus wasn¡¦t important to the story. Obviously He¡¦s the focus of the story.

But my intention is to give us a glimpse into the two other main characters.

And in looking at them, I want us to not only get some biographical information, I want us to see what we can take and implement in our own lives from their examples.

Let¡¦s get started by looking first at¡K

1. Mary

When working on this portion of the message, I came across a quandary.

I grew up Catholic, so I was taught to pray to Mary. She was presented as someone who interceded to God on our behalf, lifting our requests to God, and having some pull with Him when it came to our eternal destiny.

When I would go to confession on Saturdays, depending on the sins I confessed, I was usually given a ¡§penance¡¨ which included a given number of ¡§Our Father¡¦s¡¨ and a given number of ¡§Hail Mary¡¦s.¡¨

Large or numerous sins would generally cause you to have to say a whole bunch of these prayers.

Just so you know, I think the most I ever had to do was 3 ¡§Our Father¡¦s¡¨ and 5 ¡§Hail Mary¡¦s!¡¨

She is venerated all over the world, and virtually worshiped, if not actually worshiped by many.

And there is a movement in some parts of the Catholic Church to have Mary proclaimed the ¡§Co-redemptrix.¡¨ In other words, it would be believed and taught that salvation is obtained through Jesus and Mary.

The Immaculate Conception is not about Jesus, but rather the conception of Mary, because the Catholic Church teaches that Mary herself sinless, so that she could carry the Son of God.

This is not biblical, and is dangerous.

In response to this, the protestant church has pretty much banished Mary to the occasional discussion at Christmas time, because of our belief in the Virgin Birth. And she is neglected much of the year.

This also is not good.

The angel Gabriel called her ¡§highly favored.¡¨

She was a highly favored handmaiden, a humble servant of God, chosen by Him to carry His Son.

And while it doesn¡¦t give her a status next to deity, it does make her a special.

Even the reformers held Mary in higher esteem than we do today. We need to get back into honoring Mary.

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